Friday, April 11, 2008

David Bullard has been Fired

I heard this on 94.7, and I heard John Robbie speaking to the ST editor, and the gist is that David is a racist and that his latest column Uncolonised Africa wouldn’t know what it was missing is to blame.

I have interviewed David Bullard at length. The cigar and whiskey props are contrivances to support a snooty, highbrow image, but some of it is tongue in cheek (and there is a lot of cheek as we all know and expect).

I'm not going to comment on the article. It speaks for itself, and many will agree it is not one of David's best. I think Llewellyn Kriel's blog stepped over a line in terms of the things one would say if you were talking directly to a person your writing addresses (say, in their lounge). My question would just be, if David was in the lounge of his bosses, would he have been happy to read out his column and have a happy debate afterwards?

The other thing to point out is the 'racism' label. Most of us know for certain who racists are. Racists tend to be pretty obvious in their racism. They are bitter, spiteful, nasty and obviously biased. They have big chips on their shoulders, sometimes for good reasons. They use demeaning terms on a regular basis, they keep reinforcing their opinion with supporting evidence, there is a pattern. They tell a lot of a certain kind of joke and anecdotes are all a certain kind of biased, stereotypical story. I did have a sense that David's column has become darker and more brooding (more negative of late), but so has sentiment in this country, especially with what has happened in Zimbabwe.

There is a saying - one swallow doesn't make a summer, and I think the 'racism' label is applied sometimes to indict a person for a single or a few (possibly significant) offence/s. But that doesn't make someone a racist. There's a difference between a racist remark and someone who is a self-confessed racist (or even a racist in hiding). A lot of South Africans, I believe, despite plenty of supporting evidence on both sides, are very careful not to be racist, they endeavour to ignore a lot of negative signals (on both sides of the dotted line).

If I make a racist remark, does that mean I am a racist? If a mini bus taxi turns in front of me and a swear at them, and the next thing a Mercedes with some white idiot does the same thing, and I use equally shitty language on both, is one any different from the other?

As I say, racism is part of a pattern, and people can often see from a mile away what one's philosophy is. Is David Bullard a racist? If he is, it has taken 14 years to make this discovery, and it is happening around the time Presidents are a-changing.

No comments: